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Mar 5 UPDATE: This order is proving a bit more laborious to expedite than our vendor had originally anticipated, so these boxes haven't been shipped out yet. Anyone who filled in a form should receive an email with tracking information as soon as their box is shipped. Anyone who didn't catch the email on time, please see this other post.


Jan 30 UPDATE: JNat just sent out emails to collect addresses — be on the lookout for those, and try to fill it in the next two weeks! :)

Did you receive any gifts that you'd appreciate a lot more if they were actually something that you could use, or even wanted? Do you still have some from the last few years? Don't feel bad, we've got you. Curious? Read on.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you've got, well, stuff. We've got stuff too, in fact, we have so much stuff that we really need to make room to order new stuff. And in order to do that, we need to give it away.

But we feel kinda bad about giving people that have an abundance of stuff even more stuff when there are so many folks out there that really need stuff, especially in colder climates right now. Our branded flashlights, keychains, stickers, mugs, mouse pads, aprons, and things of that sort are super cool, but they aren't things that charities can use directly without burning additional overhead.

That's where the stuff-a-way idea comes in. Here's how it works:

  1. You give stuff that you don't need to people that need it. That could mean dropping off some stuff to a charity, food bank, making a donation to a non-profit that can help people (if money is the thing you have too much of), handing a blanket and a cup of coffee to a homeless person, or whatever makes someone's life better than it was before you did your thing.
  2. You write an answer to this question and let us know that you did something and tell us about your random act of kindness. You can share as much or as little as you'd like; we're going to take your word for it. In your answer, tell us what sites in our network you like the most (we'll go by where you participate if you don't).
  3. We will send you a shoebox full of swag that you'll be sure to like. See what we did there? Everyone wins because:
    1. Those in need get stuff they can use immediately (things like mouse pads, aprons, pens, stickers, notebooks, and keychains aren't on that list, we're sure).
    2. You get rid of stuff you don't need. We empty our warehouse for the most part to make room for all new stuff. Your sweat equity is getting out to do something nice, our's is handling all the shipping of the goodies.
    3. You get stuff you want, in the form of a loot-box style package from us.

If you'd rather not receive anything, just say so. This event is structured so that we make sure giving is all about what the recipients actually need and the warm feelings from it come secondary (which is why we don't just bulk-donate thousands of dollars worth of stuff); beyond that, we're cool with whatever terms you like.

The rules

  1. Any user of MSE in good standing is eligible, including employees, but only one entry per person is allowed. Likewise, prizes are limited to one per participant.

  2. You must ensure that your email address associated with your account is current and verified by our system to receive your box. Not hearing back from folks is a big problem for this kind of event, so make sure the email associated with your account works, and is one that you check at least semi-frequently.

  3. To participate, you must make some kind of needed donation to a person or charitable organization in need of what you have. Canned food for a food bank? Good. Old laptops for any educational purpose? Good. A bag of fast food for a homeless person? Good. We trust that you will do good things and not require adult supervision, please prove us correct there. Also, homeless shelters need socks, sanitary pads, diapers, etc - a little research in your area can go a long way.

  4. Sweat equity is accepted as a donation (in which you go volunteer your time somewhere that meets the spirit of this event). Again, we trust that you'll make us proud of you.

  5. This event will remain open until it's very likely that we're just about out of stuff to send. That could be a month, a week, or whatever. It's hard to say with these types of events.

  6. Oh yes, the prizes! Boxes will include multiple things consisting of pens, sharpies, stickers, drink holders, aprons, battery packs, flashlights, mugs, mouse pads, staplers and other office supplies, games, shirts, hats and other items branded Stack Overflow or after other Stack Exchange websites. Some items will also include rarer prizes like hoodies, other branded outerwear and bags, books, and other surprise items.

  7. While we'll ask for your preferences, we can't guarantee what's going to be in any given box. It's a mystery, but it will be cool stuff!

  8. Our code of conduct applies to any and all activity related to this event.

Now, head to those closets, attics, or those boxes that might be under a pile of more appreciated gifts and help everyone get something that they want and need at the end of the holiday season this year.

While we hope to be able to do this again in the future, it'll depend on what we've got laying around. If any of our customers signal that they want to throw in some stuff to sweeten the communal pot luck, we'll update the post (I honestly haven't talked to anyone about this yet, kinda winging it, so check back occasionally for updates).

Commence the stuff-a-way! And, enjoy being good to your fellow living creatures that could use a little help right now.

Thank you, everyone!

The stories you've shared are full of great examples that we hope will inspire others to adopt new and creative ways of giving to those that need some help. From reminding all of us that donating blood can literally save lives, to ideas surrounding creative kits that contain essential supplies and some gift cards, you've given lots of folks great ideas and been an inspiration. This was an experiment, and because of you, it was a resounding success!

We'll be reaching out soon (really, allow the full 6 to 8 weeks here as this is a huge effort) and getting everyone that wants one their boxes of goodies. We'll very likely do something similar to this as part of Stack Exchange Gives Back next year, so stay tuned, and thanks again to everyone that participated!

closed as off-topic by Tim Post Jan 9 at 18:06

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The problem described here can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the circumstances affecting the asker have rendered it obsolete. If you encounter a similar problem, please post a new question." – Tim Post
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    Gifts, This year? No. ;) – GDPR Jan 2 at 19:47
  • 32
    I like how this event lets the community be a part of Stack giving Back. <3 – EKons Jan 2 at 19:48
  • 6
    @MEE I thought of inventing a time machine and finding out where you live just to go back in time and give you something yesterday, but editing the post seemed easier. Fixed. – Tim Post Jan 2 at 19:59
  • 36
    What a great idea! Does stuff we gave away in the few days before this meta post count too, or does it need to be in response to this meta post? – Monica Cellio Jan 2 at 20:43
  • 10
    This is a 2018 Stuff-A-Way, so did the act of charity have to be done last year? – Caleb Kleveter Jan 2 at 21:02
  • 8
    Best. Thing. Ever. But, why tag it as winter bash? – Shadow Jan 2 at 22:03
  • 11
    I don't like this. Charity isn't something that needs to be rewarded. – Avnish Kabaj Jan 3 at 4:50
  • 9
    @AvnishKabaj: You can do charity without it being physically rewarded. This is just a way to promote even more charitable acts. (To some degree, all charity that people do is done for the "reward" of feeling good about yourself.) – V2Blast Jan 3 at 5:44
  • 7
    @AvnishKabaj agree if we would have been given money for this. But SE swag is just pure fun, so best way to encourage us to do good things. :) – Shadow Jan 3 at 7:14
  • 17
    @AnkitSharma Any recent event is fine. There's no hard 'cutoff' other than your own instinct; if it's fresh enough to feel relevant for you, it's probably fine. In the very unlikely event that someone posts something that isn't in good faith we'll deal with it, but we won't let the possibility of someone doing that complicate things needlessly for others, if that makes sense. – Tim Post Jan 3 at 14:02
  • 13
    When will we get the emails again? – Charalampos Fanoulis Jan 5 at 19:30
  • 9
    @AgiHammerthief Isn't the whole point of charity to help people? Maybe there's merit in being humble, but the real core purpose of charity is helping people in need; telling people about it doesn't make the beneficiary benefit any less. – Ian Jan 8 at 15:44
  • 8
    I agree, @Ian. And in particular, telling others about one's efforts to give back, when encouraged to share such stories, hardly makes a user sharing such a story any less humble than one who decides not to do so. Indeed, sharing "good news" helps counter the incessant exposure to crimes and warfare and human misery, and in this way, helps folks to be inspired to contribute, rather than concluding there's no point in any thing, anyway. – Namaste Jan 8 at 22:44
  • 4
    @AgiHammerthief It depends on the context - if one is not being self-promoting ("Look at me; I'm so great..."), but rather sharing in joy, then perhaps it is right to share our joys with one another, just as we bear one another's burdens... "Joy shared is doubled; pain shared is halved." – user3.1415927 Jan 9 at 4:06
  • 7
    @Ian Nothing yet. I'm in the US. – Mooseman Feb 26 at 15:48

252 Answers 252

73

I'm part of a team, made up of teenagers aged 15-17, who volunteer to be a part of this team, and then we go and do... stuff.

What we do varies, but there's one thing that we do regularly.

Here in our town, there are a lot of old Holocaust survivors who don't have a lot of family or anyone around too often. And so, for their birthdays, we'll come over, bring cookies, balloons, flowers, and a sign to stick on the wall, and then sit and chat.
We'll talk about their kids, who are often living overseas, and about them, how they arrived in town...

Sometimes, it can be hard talking to these people. I'm naturally inclined to be reclusive, and... to say I'm socially awkward is an understatement, and so I usually am not the chattiest one there... but it's important that I make the effort. Once you warm up to each other, these people are some of the nicest folks you'll meet, and usually have some amazing stories to tell.

At times, it can be really difficult. I remember one man in particular. We had come in to visit them for his wife's birthday. He was an Auschwitz survivor, if I recall correctly, and was a veteran of the IDF. He had... to say PTSD would be an understatement. He repeatedly showed us the number on his arm and was telling us about how we need to always remain strong. But once you work past that, and really start to get to know these people... it's really worth the effort.

It just so happens that today of all days, was the first time that we went back to a house for the second time. We had been there exactly a year ago, and it was her birthday again. We walked in, singing "Happy Birthday", and then we sat and chatted for about a full hour.

I feel that this is basically on the same level as "helping" as when I donate money to the local charity that helps feed some of these people. People have an emotional need to feel cared for, and that they're not alone. I've been stopped in the street by some of the people we've visited, and had them thank me for coming by. Never underestimate the importance of simply brightening someone's day and putting a smile on their face.


If we're talking about swag stuff, then I'd love Bicycles.SE, Scifi.SE, Puzzling.SE, and Music.SE stuff. Having Mi Yodeya swag would also be pretty cool.

  • 11
    I know I'm violating the "no +1" rule on comments, but this is an amazing thing to do, kudos. – Ed Griebel Jan 7 at 20:02
46

Where I'm from most offices do a form of Secret Santa. It's a beloved tradition of hoping you get someone you know quite well and then buying them something cheap and hoping they like it. If you're lucky you've got a programmer on hand to at least ensure it's both random and secret.

People really enjoy Secret Santa and I never want to get in their way. I don't really want to participate though; I don't need a random bit of plastic*. I've had to come up with a different tradition to not appear like a miser (:.

Instead of Secret Santa I organise, every year, the unfortunately acronymed, Alternative Secret Santa. If someone doesn't want to participate in Secret Santa (and even if they do) encourage them to donate the money they would have spent to a charity for those who are least likely to be having a good Christmas.

We normally donate to homeless childrens charities; this year it was also our local food bank during a year when more and more people are needing this sort of help.

To be honest, I don't need another pen. I do hope that some of the readers of this answer might spread the word about ASS to their own (work)place and start their own traditions of donating instead of buying.

* tat

  • 5
    My congregation started the Alternative Gift Market a few years ago, so instead of buying people random junk they don't need, you can "buy" them a donation to people with more basic needs (and the people running the market take care of collecting and making the donations). We do a mix of local and global. Kids in our school make original cards to give to the recipients. This is definitely a thing, and I hope the idea spreads. – Monica Cellio Jan 2 at 20:50
  • Great to hear! My employer also organizes "Christmas giving" for charities and needy individuals rather than co-workers. Employees are encouraged to donate to a cause from list (sourced from employees suggestions) and the company adds their own contribution, potentially doubling the impact. It would be great if more organizations would do that. – KellyM Jan 4 at 1:01
  • Or you could name it Secret Santa, Alternative-Style (which has a bit of a sassy acronym). – TOOGAM Jan 5 at 11:18
44

I guess every person has their own heroes. When I was young, I spent most summers at the sea with my family and I always admired the crews of the DGzRS (English version) cruisers. It takes a special kind of human to volunteer to jump into a boat and head right into deadly storm brewing to help other people they have never seen before. And by volunteer, I mean volunteer. It's not their job; they don't get any money for it. Their organization gets no tax money from the state; it's donations only.

Enter image description here

So yeah, you made me donate. For the first time in my life. I always wanted to, but it needed stuff from the Internet to actually get me off my lazy ◼◼◼ (redacted to comply with the code of conduct) and do it :)

In case you are from around here and want to help too: Link

I almost forgot: my favorite of the SE sites is the OG: Stack Overflow

  • 10
    Likewise the RNLI in the UK. Long time favourite charity of mine. – ArtOfCode Jan 3 at 0:10
  • 1
    Great call. Like @ArtOfCode, I have always been a supporter of RNLI in UK. I live in Germany now and didn't know about DGzRS until I saw an add on TV recently (over Christmas season I think). Thanks for reminding me to follow up. – ElPedro Jan 5 at 17:10
37

I was helping a client fix up her computer, and while we were there she found a lot of technical/computer related stuff which she didn't need.

I took it and donated it to a local educational non-profit (where I help out) which I knew could use them.

She was happy to get rid of some "junk". They were happy to receive some good equipment.

win - win 😊

36

/!\ Trigger warning: blood donation. I used my remarkable Paint skills to remove blood appearances from the linked picture but if you're uncomfortable with it, please don't mind my post.


I've been volunteering since age 14 (I'm 23 now!), be it in funding charities or giving my time for cooking meals for homeless people. But the thing I've been doing the most often is giving my blood, platelets and blood plasma. In France, where I come from, giving sanguine products is a volunteering act, you don't get money for doing so.

I am lucky my veins are wide and strong enough to allow me giving platelets and plasma. But even if it's not your case, please consider giving blood more often - which may be easier for you to give. Sanguine products are goods that are needed worldwide and they save lives. You may be giving away minutes of your time, but by doing so, you'll allow someone else to win back years of living.

This is a picture of me giving my plasma in Tours, France. Taken in July 2016.

I'm a DevOps engineer and therefore I enjoy spending time on Stack Overflow, Super User, Ask Ubuntu and Unix&Linux but my favorite site is Interpersonal Skills, for as most of my volunteering was about helping charities in improving their communication skills, getting involved on a stack for interpersonal skills was the logical way for me to pursue helping people.

  • 27
    Should I be worried, why you had blood in your face that had to get covered? :4 – Zaibis Jan 3 at 9:35
  • 7
    @Zaibis Really, you should be worried if one doesn't have blood in one's face. – wizzwizz4 Jan 3 at 17:17
  • @wizzwizz4 well, not the painted parts I‘d say, tho :p – Zaibis Jan 3 at 17:31
  • 8
    This is clearly missing free-hand RED circles. I dunno whether it is legitimate anymore. ;) – BlackVegetable Jan 4 at 18:01
  • 1
    I can tell you have done freehand Paint handwriting before :) – Clonkex Jan 5 at 12:23
  • @BlackVegetable Erh, the red color didn't seem appropriate as a way to hide the blood. :p – avazula Jan 6 at 14:28
  • 1
    @Clonkex I don't know what you're talking about. – avazula Jan 6 at 14:30
  • 6
    I guess I have really good blood. Every time I donate, they mark it A+ :) – Ron Maupin Jan 8 at 20:45
33

I'll add my own thing. It's not really a thing, but I like pointing out the benefits of focusing on local communities (it takes a village, after all), and my short story illustrates that a bit.

I don't really have a favorite site; Stack Overflow, Seasoned Advice, Arqade, DIY and other places have delighted me with questions that I'm able to answer (and once, I even got help disposing of a dead body), but I see our sites as many specializations of the same core group of people.

For those that don't know me, I cook quite a bit. I used to cook professionally (along with some other occupations while programming gigs got scarce in the late 90s to early 2000s), and it's still something I do avidly. I'm a firm believer in everyone having a right to wholesome food, and that everyone deserves the help and support of their neighbors.

I work from home. My spouse currently doesn't work (she will once our smallest child starts school next year). Our kids eat really well because I have an awesome job that allows me to have good work/life balance which lets me cook. As our kids started making friends in the neighborhood, we naturally had young guests for dinner.

Then, we started having more, and more, and more. On any given day, I feed up to ten kids. We don't just feed them, we also give them a safe place to hang out and play after school. Their parents work, many of them multiple jobs, and the kids just sort of gravitated to our house. There wasn't any formal arrangement, we just sort of ended up looking after quite a few of them, and it's something we very much enjoy doing. We picked our neighborhood very deliberately because it's extremely diverse, many families here are first generation immigrants that own very young small businesses.

We do what we can, and what we can involves helping other parents not need to worry so much about where their kids are, or what they're gonna cook for dinner. And the beauty of it is, this isn't any kind of arrangement that anyone discussed, it just sort of happened, and it perpetuates because everyone involved is just happy about it. Occasionally, they send a stash of chips and snacks over to say thanks, and that's all we'd ever want, no money ever changes hands.

It's great to have the privilege of being a part of so many memories that will last well into the future, and to put real nourishment (literally) on the table. For me? I hate cooking anything in small batches (believe it or not, everything gets easier when you're doing it for 10+), so I'm just glad I can cook whatever I want and it disappears quickly.

For monetary donations, I use Donors Choose and support teachers in Baltimore (notoriously under-funded city schools) as often as we can. What I like about the platform is you have the ability to jump in and fund entire projects for a teacher (many as low as $100) so they can move with some agility to quickly meet student needs that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Anyway, that's it. I just like cooking, so I'm happy my skills there get to remain valuable to more than just me even after I stopped doing it for a paycheck.

  • 4
    When I was a kid, I used to go over to some of my classmates' house after school to hang out while my folks were working. Their mom always baked bread right before she'd come pick us up, so it'd be just about done cooling when we arrived. I don't keep in touch with those classmates or remember much about them at all - I must have been around 5 when we did this - but I'll always remember the bread and the warm fuzzies it generated. So I'm willing to bet those kids are gonna remember your snacks for decades (if not your name). :) – hairboat Jan 4 at 16:46
  • Amazing! Thanks for sharing – ykay Jan 23 at 8:51
29

The great earthquake declutter of 2018

I live in Eagle River Alaska, just outside of Anchorage. On the morning of November 30 we were walloped with a 7.0 earthquake. Other than a broken window and some cracks in the drywall, we and our house are okay.

However, almost everything in the house ended up on the floor. After the quake our place was a sea of broken glass. All the cupboards flew open and we lost just about every glass and dish we own. Shelves came down; bookcases emptied.

My wife, being a fan of Marie Kondo's decluttering philosophy, convinced me that now was the time. Rather than put everything back, it was time to go through everything all the floor (aka everything) and decide what is necessary and what really gives us pleasure and declutter the rest.

The month of December has been one giant stuff-away as car load after car load of books, clothes, and electronics are taken to local charity thrift stores.

  • 3
    +1 for finding a positive to the quakes. – Criggie Jan 4 at 5:57
  • 1
    So... now that you gotten rid of all that clutter you want some new clutter? ;) – Ploni Jan 6 at 3:28
  • 2
    If only I could get some Stack Exchange china a crystal @Ploni! – Mark Meyer Jan 6 at 3:29
26

I collected (donations of old and new) and bought (new) 55 sleeping bags That i donated to the Scoutreach program for underprivileged scouts. I intend for this to be an ongoing program.

enter image description here

I also donated $1000 to make sure that some of the underprivileged scouts can go to summer camp next summer, and I explained to the Scoutreach executive that if there are others that need help as camp approaches, that I will do what I can to help more.

22

My work has been in the process of clearing out and fixing up a floor of our building for awhile now. Starting a little more than a month ago, IT began putting out a bunch of free randomness on a table (including but not limited to cables of all sorts, old monitors, etc...).

Before long, people were bringing a bunch of stuff from holiday parties they didn't need anymore. There was a day that our freebie table was filled with two dozen mason jars, a pile of mini horseshoes and even more randomness.

After a conversation with my IT buddy, I learned they were throwing away whatever people weren't taking at the end of each week!

Horrified, I sent an email to his boss. Since then I've been making weekly drives with a trunk full of stuff to Goodwill for the last month.

21

I give anywhere from $1 to $5 to a homeless lady named Jackie who I see all the time when I'm downtown. Last week, she said that she had nearly saved up enough money to buy a car, which will give her a shelter for inclement days.

Also, a homeless man asked me for money, and I told him I'd be happy to buy him something to eat. He said he actually was hoping to get food for a holiday meal. I took him to the grocery store and told him to get whatever he needs and I paid for it.

And, I don't smoke, but I carry an extra pack of smokes to give to homeless people, as an alternative to money.

My 6 year old daughter picked out a tag from a Giving Tree, for a 6 year old girl who wanted a particular toy, which we bought and returned to the tree.

And, I'm in the midst of a Sh*t We Don't Need purge of my house. I have several bags/boxes filled and will be donating them to Goodwill soon.

21

The Cellio foundation -- that is, I, the cat, and the checkbook -- met at the end of 2018 to decide on year-end donations. We benefited from a surprise bonus at work, so there was more money in the budget than we'd expected when we did the initial planning for the year. Nice problem to have!

There are several themes in our charitable donations. Today I'm going to talk about one of them, food. So much food gets wasted, thrown away, in some places, while in other places people are going wanting. It feels like this problem should be easier to solve than it is. So I take a multi-tiered approach:

I take extra usable items from my pantry to the local food pantry (just down the street), but this has been falling off lately -- not because I'm stingy but because I finally joined a CSA and started getting smarter about using what I buy and not buying what I won't use. (Yay, I've moved from "reuse" to "reduce"!) That means there's less extra stuff now, so I've increased my financial donations to them. (It doesn't make sense for me to buy food for them directly; they get better bulk discounts than I can get.)

At the extremely local level, there are two people I see outside the store frequently, a disabled veteran outside the main grocery store and a homeless person outside the smaller store across the street. I try to ask them on my way in what I can get them from the deli or prepared-foods section. Sometimes it's coleslaw; sometimes it's a turkey sandwich. Last week the homeless person got some surprise roasted chicken alongside the sandwich he asked for.

I feel it's important to support local organizations, but the biggest problems in the world are not local to me so I need to look there too. That's why I support (among others) Heifer, who provide not just food but the means of production worldwide.


My favorite sites are Mi Yodeya, Worldbuilding, Writing, and (ok I'm a little weird) Meta. I cook a lot, so an apron would get used, and I have all the usual problems of heavy gadget users, so battery packs and ways to carry stuff around are always welcome.

18

My wife just re-read the popular (and excellent) Marie Kondo decluttering book and we decided to start donating our we'll-use-it-someday-but-actually-won't stuff.

Made 3 trips to Goodwill over the past break week with clothes, kitchen stuff, board games, usable computer parts, etc.

(For those not in the US, Goodwill is a charity that takes donations and sells the useful items in their thrift stores, using the proceeds for their social programs.)

18

My spouse and I have an extra room in our house, and currently it is filled with a woman who needed a place to stay and didn't want to go to the local mission. She's gradually getting back on her feet, and hopefully will have a job soon. Because we live out in the country, we bought a car for her to drive. Once she has a job, I'll add her name to the title, and when she's ready to live on her own, I'll remove my name and it can go with her.

Her sons and teenage granddaughter recently moved and have lost their jobs. So for Christmas, we bought food for her to take to them, and invited them to Christmas dinner and presents. I saw the teen give a small shy smile when she opened one gift, but we mostly stayed out of the way, and made sure most of the gifts were from the house guest.

(We benefit from the house guests - we've acquired three god-grandchildren from two of our previous house guests. It is never one sided.)

  • BTW, I mostly hang out on The Workplace. – thursdaysgeek Jan 2 at 21:33
  • Inspiring! Thanks for sharing – ykay Jan 23 at 8:52
  • My box of swag arrived yesterday. – thursdaysgeek Mar 21 at 21:56
18

Every year, my local grocery store sells these in the weeks leading up to christmas:

enter image description here

They are 5€ bags full of long shelf-life products that are for local soup kitchens. The exact contents of the bag are customized in cooperation with the local soup kitchens and the grocery store sells them at a bit under cost. When you buy one of those bags, you don't actually take it home, you just deposit it into a container next to the checkout. The store then donates all bought bags to local soup kitchens who distribute them to in need families and inviduals in the area.

I buy some every year, and the grocery store in my town is almost always sold out of them by the end of the week. This year, the store chain sold over 460.000 of these bags (and chipped in 40.000 worth itself) for in need families.

  • 3
    I used to buy them in the past as well, but unfortunately this year our market didn't do this. They're really cool and it's an easy way of helping people! :) – dly Jan 3 at 8:24
  • Yay, we do something similar in Switzerland (cantons of Geneva and Vaud) where it's called "Samedi du partage". Always feels good to join in. – Bart Jan 5 at 18:53
17

A few years back, I donated blood pretty regularly (I'm O+). When a family member got cancer, I stopped donating so I'd have a pint ready if they needed one. The need never arose and, at this point, won't. (For those thinking about doing this, retrospectively I'd recommend that you continue your regular donation schedule unless your relative has a particularly rare type that you match. I think this would have done more net good.)

I've been trying to get in the habit of donating again this past year by inviting friends to donate with me. In practice, this has meant donating less than I otherwise would, but I think it's been a net positive: many folks want to donate and are up for it if they have a friend along.

One reason I feel it's important to donate is that a lot of people who would like to can't.

Remember the shooting at that gay nightclub in Orlando? Afterwards, many people wanted to donate, but donations from "men who have had sex with men" are restricted. It sucks when you want to help someone and you can't. It sucks when things are out of your control.

Do you have globe-trotting friends? They may not be able to donate either. Spending time in the tropics, the United Kingdom, or a host of other places makes a person ineligible to donate (in the US) either temporarily or permanently.

It can also be more random. At one point people in Miami couldn't donate due to Zika virus.

In total, only 38% of the U.S. can donate. And only 10% of those who are eligible do.

96% of us in the US rely, every day, on the 4% of the US who does donate.

If you can donate, you should. [7] Do it for yourself. Do it for your friends. Do it because your friends can't and have friends who need it.

I'm going to try to be better at donating this coming year, and I hope you will to.

If you're in the SF Bay Area (or Seattle, Boulder, or Boston - I travel often) and would like someone to donate with, drop me a line!

Donate blood

^ This could be you! ^

(I primarily use StackOverflow and SciComp.)

  • 2
    I just watched this three-part documentary called Blade and it shows that the blood collection drives are actually just a scam to feed the vampire cartel. – user212646 Jan 4 at 23:14
  • Darn it: you've figured me out... – Richard Jan 5 at 8:01
  • 1
    +1 for encouraging others to go with you and for pointing out how few people are actually allowed to donate. – Stephie Jan 7 at 7:25
  • 1
    This is so cool. I connect with you in so many levels (also O+, lol). I used to donate blood all the time and was always trying to brainwash my friends to come along. I convinced a few and I'm so happy when they text me saying they still go :). It's such a simple gesture and it's amazing how much it can help. It's easy to take it for granted.. but when you experience needing it you see how important it is. Keep up the good work, Richard. Hope you get lots of cool swag from SO :) – jpgrassi Jan 8 at 9:02
16

Some of you may already know that I like crocheting stuff, A LOT. This all started back when I was in University. The owner of the Textile Research Centre came by and taught us a course on archaeological textiles. She ended her class with the message that 'you're welcome to drop by, and help out'.

I'd never really been a really outgoing person, but the following week I (really nervously) stepped across their doorstep and enjoyed being a volunteer there. It was there that I was first introduced to crafts, I learned to do a bit of shuttle tatting when helping to set up an exhibition. While I can't really help them out by donating stuff to their collection, I still like to give a bit to their fundraisers whenever funds allow.

Years later, I'm still into all sorts of textile related crafting, all as a result of that one encounter. And I'm trying to use it for good too. I crochet a lot of small stuffed animals in between bigger projects, and they go to charity. Last year, most of them went to an orphanage that some people I know volunteer for, they took them there on their yearly visit. A few have ended up in shoeboxes (sorry, Dutch link) together with other school supplies, going to kids in faraway countries. This year, well, who knows? They're going to a good cause again, that's for sure.

Whenever I'm doing bigger projects, I tend to buy yarn kits. Often, these are quite royal and I end up with leftover yarn. Whatever yarn I have left from such a project goes (through a friend) to the local establishment of the Salvation Army. Here, it is used in craft gatherings, where people can just walk in. It helps those that don't have the money to spend on anything besides basic necessities while giving them an outlet to forget their worries for a while and relax. I've heard most people really enjoy making either clothing they can use or toys they can give to their kids.

15

Christmas this year was the year of the new laptops - my parents', my sister's, and my laptop were all something like 7 years old, so we replaced the lot.

Over the past week or so, I've erased each one and refreshed Windows so they work reasonably smoothly again, and gave them to a friend of ours whose charity takes them out to Kenya to use in education.

  • 6
    Moves to Kenya so that I can scrap the data off of your hard drives. 😋 – WELZ Jan 2 at 23:07
  • That'd be why I erased them, @WELZ :) – ArtOfCode Jan 3 at 0:06
  • 2
    @WELZ He'll be testing how well you erased them... – Ploni Jan 6 at 3:37
15

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the church my wife and I attend decided we needed to do something that would lastingly help the people of Haiti and not just dump free stuff that destroys the local economy or make a bunch of empty promises.

Instead we opened an orphanage called Children's Hope. It's gone from a simple orphanage to a school, medical/dental clinic, and meal center. Instead of just going and leaving, we've made it an ongoing effort and it's making the kind of impact Haiti needs. I continually donate to this organization, as even small donations have such a major impact.

I've done most of my work on Stack Overflow (mostly just moderation of late)

  • 5
    The "dump free stuff that destroys the local economy" point is something I wish I saw talked about more often. That almost always points out giving that's more for the benefit of the emotions of the giver than the needs of the recipient. – Tim Post Jan 3 at 14:34
14

This post was exactly what I needed.

Today I received my first, post-graduation, salary. And, as I promised myself a long time ago, it was time to make a big donation instead of the 5~10€ I usually give (actually, the truly big one will have to wait until next month as I am still a little bit short on money).

I care a lot about different topics, so here are where I intend to give my money:

  • Autism => already choose an association
  • Animals well-being => already choose an association and also joined it
  • Transgender people rights (and LGBT+ people rights) => already found an association, waiting to see if there is a better one
  • Association for the safety of prostitutes => Didn't look yet
  • Feminism => Found one in the USA, waiting to find another one in France

As it turns out, will I was looking for associations to give money to, I found one I'm willing to also give time to and joined it! It for animals' well-being and I already made my first contribution as a member of this association! (it took me only a few minutes but it did feel very good!)

I do care about a lot of things and, unfortunately, can't give to all of them. So to choose the ones on the list below, I asked myself this question: "What do I care about and feel other people don't care enough about?"


Edit: Reading all those other answers made me remember that I also deeply care about refugees and there right to live. That's why I intend to also give to an association for them and try to do more if I can.


In case you are wondering, I'm a big interpersonal stack exchange fan, even though I do lack in those interpersonal skills.

13

My partner and I moved three times in 2018 but finally landed in our first house a few weeks ago. As we unpacked our boxes we collected all the clothing, household items, and kitchen gear that we hadn't used at all in the last year.

We took everything (several boxes spread out over two or three trips) to two local charities:

  • ARC Community Services runs an advocacy and case management service for women, femmes, and others who experience gender oppression.
  • St Vincent de Paul of Madison, WI runs a food pantry, charitable pharmacy, and housing projects, among many other services for those experiencing homeless and inadequate housing.
13

This year, one of my colleagues, who has a friend who runs a refugee center, had the luminous idea of organizing a Christmas party for the children in the center. They could not spend Christmas at home for obvious reasons, and presents weren't really on their parents' mind (if their parents were even there). She asked all of us, when we went for Christmas shopping, to buy an extra present for one of the children in the center. (In case you're wondering; I've bought a football. Sports are fun and important for the development of children.) Together, we've managed to shine a tiny bit of light into 76 children's lives.

Just to be sure, this project is more work than just sending out an email to the entire company; you have to gift-wrap some of the presents, sort them by age and gender, buy some additional presents with funds provided by colleagues who aren't regularly in the office, transport the presents from the office to the party, etc. But it's a very nice idea which I can recommend to all of you for next year. You really get the feeling that you're making the world a better place together as colleagues, which is special; normally, we're only doing things together because it pays our salary, it's fun (or if we're lucky, both). If this entry qualifies for the swag, I'll be more than happy to share it with all of them (they're all (semi-)frequent Stack Overflow users).

13

I thought showing off all our awesome knitting projects was going to be my favorite MSE post of the holiday season, but this one has gone and raised the bar. I suppose it's no surprise that a crowd that likes to hang out on a Q&A site geared toward helping people solve their problems also likes to help people IRL, but it's been really wonderful to read about them all today. It warms the proverbial cockles of the heart!

I don't need a box (I work here so I'm up to my ears in Stack gear) but I'm inspired to share. This fall I began volunteering at the Bicycle Collective in my city. They take used bicycles in varying degrees of disrepair and either: strip them of useful parts and recycle the rest; fix them up enough to donate to folks in need of low-cost transportation; or repair and shine them up to sell in the shop (where the proceeds go back into financing the Collective's charitable activities). For folks who need a bike but can't afford to buy one, they have a program that lets anyone come into the shop and volunteer a certain number of hours in exchange for a bike. People learn bike mechanic skills, socialize with other volunteers, and earn their own bike, so it's a triple win!

Just before the holidays, we partnered with some university students and a social worker who connected us with a housing complex for refugee families. We piled 30 little kids' bikes onto a trailer and trundled on over to distribute them as part of their holiday gift assistance program. Watching a bunch of kids zoom around the parking lot on their new(-to-them) bikes was the highlight of my December! (One kid was already a solid BMX rider, hopping and skidding all over the place.)

The shop was closed for the holidays, but this week I'll resume my normal volunteer activities - I either work on bikes that need fixing, or just help organize the shop and keep things running somewhat smoothly. It's a good cause and it feels great to be of help, but honestly it's also just a good crowd and a really fun way to pass a few hours.

Anyway, it's not so much a stuff-a-way as a time-a-way, but Tim says that counts so I'm sharing it.

(Also, in our house we buy toilet paper from Who Gives A Cr*p. Because, well, we do! It's a super easy Good Thing to do - we gotta buy TP anyway, might as well make it count a little extra.)

13

I recently saw a homeless man holding a sign on the side of the road. I always keep some canned food and water in the back of my car just in case I see someone in need, so I pulled over and brought him some food and water. As I talked with him, he mentioned the weather, and I know it gets really chilly here in the winters. I gave him my coat since his clothing wasn't going to be enough to keep him warm during the freezing nights and I had an extra jacket at home anyways.

He mentioned that he's been trying to talk with other people to get back on his feet but hasn't had much luck. I usually don't give money to homeless people, but I just got some money from relatives for Christmas and knew that he needed it way more than I did, so I gave him some cash so he could find a hotel or place to stay like he said he was trying to do.

I've never had a bad experience helping homeless people, or anyone in need really. They've always been grateful for what I could offer and I hope to get more involved in helping the homeless in my community in the future.

13

This post is about a sweat donation. Quite literally.

Years ago, our children both attended a local forest kindergarten which has an amazing, dedicated staff and was just perfect for them. The kindergarten is run by a public charity / non-profit association and is at least partly funded by whatever fundraising activity the parents and other supportive individuals can come up with.

One of the backbones of the budget are bake sales a few times a year. Not the bake-a-tray-of-brownies kind, but selling handmade bread, baked in traditional wood-fired oven in a bake house. The breads are a huge hit and there's a loyal customer base that even pre-order their loaves. It's hard work that requires both physical strength and experience. Those ovens don't have a dial to set the temperature... I lead a team of volunteer bakers for six years while my kids attended the kindergarten.

This year, shortly after Christmas, I returned to take over responsibility for a full day of baking as my successor had had a baby shortly before. So in eight hours of hard work (and laughter), a small team and I together baked almost 300 loaves of bread plus sweet raisin buns, bacon buns, hefezopf and other baked foods.

I don't know the exact numbers, but from experience, the net result should be around 1000€. What - in my opinion - is even more valuable is that by stepping in, the association didn't have to cancel the event, keeping the customers happy and hopefully securing their loyalty for the future (some of them are also generous donors).

last few loaves

I usually hang out on Seasoned Advice and Coffee, Gardening, Parenting, Lifehacks and German (which kind of fits nicely with this post, methinks).

12

My extended family decided to skip a gift exchange this year at our Christmas Party and instead collect donations for a local women's shelter. Items such as hygiene products, socks, towels, etc.

I primarily spend time on Stack Overflow, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Movies & TV, and Worldbuilding.

12

We should serve back to the community where we live in, in one way or another. Since my college I've been associated with few of the organization where we tried giving back to society. Since it's a winter season, last week we organized an event in our society, in which we donated old woolen clothes to the nearby homeless people. I am also a member of CRY which works for underprivileged children.

During my college, I was part of one of our student group called "Udaan" which was aimed at teaching and helping the junior students. But during the weekends, we use to organize special classes in which we use to invite underprivileged students from nearby villages, and we use to teach them and provide basic stationary. Here is one of the picture from that time which I got from our group's Facebook page:

Udaan Society

Currently I am working as Software Engineer for Quotient Technology, and our organization also believes in returning back to community. Every year our company organizes few events known as "Power of We" where we contribute towards our community.

Here's one of the photo from 2017's Go Green initiative, where our group of 30 people planted around 150 trees. I am the guy plugging away in blue T-shirt.

Gog Green - Power Of We 2017

Few months back, in 2018, we organized a "Strike for Cause" Bowling event in our offices globally in which our company donated $100/strike (don't know what was the target we achieved, but many Strike happened).

  • 1
    This post is both powerful and familiar. Thanks for sharing. – MisterGeeky Jan 5 at 21:03
11

This year my family and I spent the morning of Christmas Eve wrapping gifts in a mall to raise money for a local non-profit which supports persons with developmental disabilities. It was really nice because we got to spend time together doing a thing, the people who had their presents wrapped got beautifully wrapped presents, and the non-profit got a bunch of funding to continue doing the valuable work that they do. :D

I'm not sure if this counts for the event since it happened more than a week ago, but it was something I wanted to share :)

11

I fill up gently used purses with feminine products, nonperishable snacks, hand sanitizer, a nail kit, lip balm, a bottle of water, $5 to Dunkin Donuts, and anything that might be useful depending on the season. While driving, whenever I see a homeless woman I offer her a bag. This way she has some needed items, hopefully a few little extras, all in an easy to carry bag.

A very proud moment for me; I had bought my kids some donuts and as we were stopped at a traffic light my older son (10) asked if he could give a homeless man his donut. So he rolled down the window and offered the man a donut. My son is autistic and only has sweets rarely for medical concerns. So for him to think that someone else might want his prized treat more, really moved me.

Thanks Stack for giving Back!

My favorites would be Stack Overflow, Database Administrators, and Ask Ubuntu.

  • This is a great idea! I never thought of filling up purses (or canvas bags for that matter). I'm stealing this idea. :-) – Monica Cellio Jan 7 at 21:36
11

This New Year, one of the organizations I donated to was GiveDirectly, which donates cash directly to the extreme poor, who then typically spend it on necessities like food, medicine, and education.

Notably, GiveDirectly and other direct cash transfer programs don't restrict what the recipients can spend the money on, on the theory that the recipients know better than the distributors what they most need. This approach has strong empirical support, is endorsed by GiveWell, and makes intuitive sense, so I'm happy to support it.

I've also been volunteering time and Ruby on Rails expertise to work on the website of a local library, and plan to do more this year.

Favorite Stack Exchange sites:

  • Stack Overflow
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Bricks
11

I work in a country where, up to June 2018, all employees must pay their union one day of work as a tax. Since the end of this tax was confirmed by the Supreme Court, I ended up thinking on what to do with this, rather small, amount of money and decided to give it to other people who would need it much more than me.

I usually help people by donating my no longer used clothes in the winter time and "adopting" poor children's letter to Santa, so they receive the gift they asked for, but donating money directly to people is not something I'm used to do.

I know some people might get offended if you directly give them money, so my plan was to be extra-generous with tips and I just did that during my short summer vacations (which ended today). It felt really good to talk to a waiter, get to know him a little better instead of just shouting "another beer please" and in the end make him smile with an extra tip, which I know is needed for him and his family. It felt so good that, after all, I gave more than I planned!

I hope other fellow brazilians see this post as an opportunity to start donating to charity. Even a small amount of money as one-day work and a chat with someone who is working for you, even for a few minutes, might make a difference! As for myself, I'm planning in doing this more often, not just once in a year!

I primarily contribute to Travel and Portuguese SE, but am an avid consumer of Stackoverflow, AskUbuntu and anything interesting I see on the hot network questions ;-)

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